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The Art in Art Prize

In September, The Incredible Art Department visited Grand Rapids, Michigan to see Art Prize, the art show and contest billed as the world’s largest payout- $400,000. IAD reported on this event last May in the Art News section. We interviewed Rick DeVos (see left), the organizer of the event while we were there. He says that 44 states and 24 countries participated in the event. Artists exhibited their work in restaurants, hotels, bridges, the street, parks, and even the police station. All in all, about 1,262 artists participated in the event. [2010's Art Prize has already been held]


Rick DeVos is interviewed on the opening day of Art Prize

Rick DeVos is interviewed on the opening day of Art Prize


There were 10 top prizes with $250,000 going to the grand prize winner. Venues got to select the artists who exhibited on their property through an online system. The area in which the event took place was in a 3 square mile radius. The public was able to vote for or against artists either online or by their cell phones. Visitors not only voted for the art they liked, they also could vote down the art they didn’t like. By each piece of art, there was a sign that gave the artist’s name, the title of the work, and phone numbers for both a yes and a no vote. (See image below right) At the date of this article, the Art Prize website is posting the current top ten choices on their index page.


Visitors had the option of voting either way via phone or online.

Visitors had the option of voting either way via phone or online.

Because of the sheer magnitude of the event and the fact I was not only able to interview artists but take over 800 pictures, you will find featured artists of the event throughout this year. It was fun to see current trends in art- especially in a recession. In addition, The Incredible Art Department also toured other events that will be covered in the future here. Following is just a glimpse of what is to come:

  • Grand Rapids Public Museum - I was fortunate to be visiting while their DaVinci Invention exhibit called Machines in Motion was being shown.

  • Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park - This is the world’s best kept secret. Famous sculptors such as August Rodin, Henry Moore, Juan Munoz, Louise Bourgeois, and Richard Hunt have work dotting the countryside.

  • Kendall College of Art & Design - We visited classrooms and the student gallery. There were also several Art Prize exhibits present.

  • Tanglefoot Artist Studio- Several well-known artists from Grand Rapids have their studios in an old factory.

  • Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) - Not only did we see the exhibits but were also allowed to go behind the scenes and see where their art is stored that isn’t currently on display. We also visited with one of the curators.

  • Muskegon Museum of Art - The Herman Miller Furniture Exhibition was going on at the time. It was fascinating to see the history of furniture design.

  • Steelcase University - Steelcase is the world’s largest furniture producer artprizelogoand we were able to see the new modern furniture designs being developed. They are also transforming hospitals across the country with new designs.

  • For example, Jason Hackenwerth creates huge sculptures from balloons. We will feature him and his work later this week. His interactive exhibit is called Ecstasy of the Scarlet Empress.

  • The Meyer May House - Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, this house was recently restored. We will cover aspects of the home that aren’t typically covered in books or articles.

Fallen Shadows

Fallen Shadows

The Art of Evan Larson

Exhibited at the The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids during the recent Art Prize event was a wall painting by Evan Larson. Although three-dimensional, the depth was enhanced by painted shadows.

Says Larson about his work above, "Through exploring prime forms of physical interaction, which are crafted to echo and distort sympathetic relationships between decorative arts traditions and those of the gallery-museum a blending of end logics can occur. In my work it is important to foster third party meanings between the tissue of ideas and the pre-linguistic language of objecthood. The gallery wall is important to my work as an institutional stage that provides a reflexive space that is the seedbed for transformation."


Fallen Shadows"The installation work stretches the gallery wall to interact with decorative ornamentation, to physically demonstrate a type of tissue that connects ideas, space, material and social communities to each other. By presenting the public a paired back interpretation of realms of interconnection, I ask ‘Where does the gallery end and the work begin?’"


Evan Larson received his Masters of Fine Arts from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He has been a professor at Rhode Island College and Southwest Texas State University. Larson received a William J. Fulbright Research Grant. Currently he is an associate professor of art at Wayne State University.


Larson has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally including venues such as the National Ornamental Museum, The Museum of Arts & Crafts, Itami, Japan, Internationalen Handwerkmesse, Munich, Germany, San Francisco Craft & Folk Art Museum in California and the Cranbrook Art Museum. His newest instillation work was displayed at Spaces gallery’s Space lab experimental space.


Evan Larson’s university web page:

Dragana Crnjak’s website:


I Thought I Might Find You Here

I Thought I Might Find You Here

The Art of Dragana Crnjak

At the recent Art Prize event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, over 1,200 artists participated. One of them was Dragana Crnjak. Her entry in Art Prize was titled, "I Thought I Might Find You Here." The painting is done in acrylic and charcoal on several walls. Says Dragana about her entry, "The drawing, existing between abstraction and representation, is fragmented, suggesting a visual narrative. I was interested in the idea of displacement, and the tension between the ‘frozen’ imagery on the wall and the movement it suggests." Below you see two views of her entry. Notice how it appears that there are 3 dimensional objects attached to the wall that cast shadows.


When someone approaches the wall up close they are surprised to find out that the three dimensions are illusionary and created by using shadow.


Painting up close

Painting up close

Bosnian born, Dragana studied art in Sarajevo and Belgrade before moving to the United States in 1997. She received her BFA in Painting from Myers School of Art at The University of Akron, Ohio in 2002 and her MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia in 2004. She is a recipient of Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in visual art and of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowship in drawing. She had thought art at University of Virginia and The Cleveland Institute of Art. She is currently Assistant Professor at Youngstown State University, Ohio, teaching painting and drawing. Says Dragana to Art Prize, "I am drawn intuitively to the ideas of the uplifting but still fragile energy of a new beginning, a sense of levitation, the transitional moments of becoming and vanishing. Resembling both monumental and microscopic visions, the suggested structures often struggle with their own stability. Lately, I have been thinking of villages as a metaphor for the unstructured, spontaneous, ever-changing, rhizome-like space in which hierarchy and dominance is questioned. This idea of village corresponds to my thinking of drawing as an open-ended process of discovery and invention."